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NFL free agency 2015: The 9 biggest winners so far

NFL general managers have been busy this week, most of them. Danny Kelly assesses the biggest winners and some honorable mentions from free agency.

It's been a crazy week. I forgot to eat on Tuesday, completely glued to Twitter after the Seahawks traded for Jimmy Graham. The Rams and Eagles swapped quarterbacks and then a few minutes later, the official start of NFL free agency. The days have blurred into the night and back into day. I need a shave. I'm an NFL junky, and I can't get enough of this offseason action.

The cool part is that we're not even done. There are still dozens of high quality players out there -- players who can make any team better, and the signings (and hopefully more trades!) will keep rolling in. That will happen.

However, in the meantime, let's take a look back at some of the clubs that had the most fun over the last three days. Here's a non-comprehensive look at a few teams that I think played the free agency game well.

Kelly's Heroes

Free agency can have its trappings, and some of the cap casualties we've seen crop up this offseason were the "big-time" signings just a year ago. However, free agency, when done with discipline and defined purpose, can not only help to just fill holes on your roster, it can give you a big-time boost and change the complexion of your team.

Now -- assigning grades to teams for their free agency hauls only three days after it has started is just about as dumb as giving grades the day after the draft, but this is what we do. We judge.

New York Jets

Signed: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Buster Skrine, DB Marcus Gilchrist, OG James Carpenter
Re-signed OT Willie Colon, LB David Harris, RB Bilal Powell
Traded for: WR Brandon Marshall
Cut: WR Percy Harvin

When I put together the Jets' "offseason plan" last week, one of my suggestions was to spend a lot of money, and the first place to look is at the defensive secondary. This was an obvious goal, of course. But I don't know if even the most optimistic or homer Jets fans could have envisioned a scenario where Todd Bowles added Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist to put next to previous first-rounders Calvin Pryor and Dee Milliner. That is what you call a shopping spree.

Bowles and Mike Maccagnan didn't just do this on a lark, though -- as we saw in Arizona last year, having talented, versatile playmakers in the secondary was absolutely key in executing the blitz-happy, impossible to predict attacking defense.

We're talking about a team on paper at this point, but on paper, the Jets' defense looks sick, particularly when you imagine it running Bowles' scheme. That front line, which features Muhammed Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Coples, paired with a now talent-packed secondary? Woooo-weeee.

Normally you'd look at a crazy spending spree like this with cynicism (and the David Harris contract should raise some eyebrows), but to me this looks like a pretty great haul for a team with tons of money to spend.

I haven't even talked about the offense. Grabbing Brandon Marshall for a fifth-round pick seems like a bargain, especially after some of the contracts that we've seen, like the $11 million APY that the Chiefs gave Jeremy Maclin and the $10 million APY Green Bay gave Randall Cobb.

All in all, a good start for the Firm of Maccagnan-Bowles.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Signed: DB Sergio Brown, CB Davon House, OT Jermey Parnell, OLB Dan Skuta, DT Jared Odrick, TE Julius Thomas
Re-signed: DT Tyson Alualu
Cut: DT Red Bryant, CB Will Blackmon

The Jags added some much-needed talent on defense in House, Brown, Dan Skuta and particularly Jared Odrick, who should come in and immediately play a number of roles as a disrupter on the defensive line. They re-upped Alualu, who has experience in the system and plays a solid, not spectacular, part in Gus Bradley's defense.

The jewel in their free agency crown is, of course, tight end Julius Thomas, one of the NFL's more prolific touchdown catchers over the past two years in Denver. Thomas' red zone prowess is something the Jags needed to add to their offensive equation, and he should provide a nice target for second-year quarterback Blake Bortles.

The Jags were willing to give Thomas $21 million guaranteed because he can come in and be the joker in an offense that will feature Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Marcedes Lewis in 2015. They're assembling weapons around their young (hopeful) franchise quarterback, and they are hoping this takes some pressure off of him to do it all.

Atlanta Falcons

Signed: DE Adrian Clayborn, LB Justin Durant, S Charles Godfrey, OLB O'Brien Schofield, CB Phillip Adams, WR Leonard Hankerson, OT Mike Person, OLB Brooks Reed, RB Antone Smith, WR Eric Weems, QB T.J. Yates
Cut: RB Steven Jackson, WR Harry Douglas, LB Sean Weatherspoon, OT Justin Blalock, OLB Jonathan Massoquoi 
Lost: DT Corey Peters

As former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn tries to build a Seattle-esque defense for his new team, free agency presents the first opportunity, and Quinn got off to a running start. He signed pass rusher Adrian Clayborn and added versatile standup linebackers and hand-in-the-dirt pass rushers Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield, all of whom should provide a huge boost to a group that really needed an infusion of talent.

The Falcons are strong up front with Ra'Shede Hageman, Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux and Malliciah Goodman, so adding these three new acquisitions into the mix should pay immediate dividends. In the secondary, the addition of Phillip Adams could be a underrated move. Adams comes from the Seattle system, having played under Quinn briefly in 2014 and before that, for Gus Bradley in 2012. That experience could help him carve out a role with the defense.

SB Nation presents: Who won the big trades before free agency even started?

Arizona Cardinals

Signed: G Mike Iupati, DT Corey Peters, DE Cory Redding, ILB Sean Weatherspoon, C A.Q. Shipley, NT Alameda Ta'amu, OLB LaMarr Woodley 
Extended: WR Larry Fitzgerald
Lost: NT Dan Williams, KR Ted Ginn, G Paul Fanaika, DT Darnell Dockett, CB Antonio Cromartie, C Lyle Sendlein

The Cardinals recouped losses of Dan Williams and Darnell Dockett by signing Corey Peters, Cory Redding and Alameda Ta'amu. They signed Mike Iupati and A.Q. Shipley to bolster the offensive line after Paul Fanaika left in free agency. But, they weren't done there. Arizona added some much-needed depth and talent at the the linebacker position, including former first-rounder Sean Weatherspoon and LaMarr Woodley.

The Iupati addition stands out above the rest -- and he should help bring a mauler and power element to the offensive line -- potentially giving Bruce Arians the run game he badly wants. Close behind in potential impact is the addition of Weatherspoon, who should be motivated to make plays in the attacking Arizona defense.

Indianapolis Colts

Signed: RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson, DE Trent Cole, DE Kendall Langford, SS Mike Adams, CB Darius Butler, OT Todd Herremans, QB Matt Hasselbeck, G Joe Reitz
Lost: C A.Q. Shipley, DE Cory Redding, DB Sergio Brown
Cut: DT Ricky Jean-Francois

The Colts' free agency haul will probably be a source of disagreement among many because they got a lot older while spending a lot of money, particularly with the addition of running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson. The contracts those two players received may end up being albatrosses for Indy, but they do have the potential to pay off big time in 2015.

Gore is the perfect fit for Pep Hamilton's power-O run game, and it's pretty intriguing to imagine Johnson catching passes from Andrew Luck.

Those aren't the only two moves. The Colts made a few nice signings that have flown under the radar. Adding Kendall Langford and Trent Cole to the defensive line shores up the depth, and adding Todd Herremans should be an important move early next year, if he can stay healthy. It never hurts to have a backup quarterback, of course, and keeping Matt Hasselbeck around for another season is a savvy move.

Honorable mentions

A few additional teams that are active in free agency and whose moves I don't completely hate:

Chicago Bears

Signed: DT/DE Pernell McPhee, S Antrel Rolle, WR Eddie Royal
Traded: WR Brandon Marshall

Nothing crazy here, but as the Bears switch to Vic Fangio's 3-4 defense, I like the additions of McPhee and Rolle.

San Diego Chargers

Re-signed: CB Brandon Flowers, OT King Dunlap
Signed: OL Orlando Franklin, KR Jacoby Jones, DT Ricardo Mathews
Lost: SS Marcus Gilchrist, RB Ryan Mathews, WR Eddie Royal

Locking in Flowers and Dunlap and then going out and getting Orlando Franklin felt like a trio of solid moves for the Chargers. Jones and Mathews will be role players, but sometimes free agency is a good place to add a piece or two for the depth chart prior to the draft.

Houston Texans

Re-signed: QB Ryan Mallett, OT Derek Newton, CB Kareem Jackson
Signed: SS Rahim Moore, QB Brian Hoyer
Cut: WR Andre Johnson, C Chris Myers
Lost: OLB Brooks Reed

It's a slightly understated series of moves by the Texans, but locking up a few of their own core players in Newton and Jackson is a nice play. Adding Ryan Mallett into the mix again is a high-potential, low-risk move, and they added insurance for his performance by inking veteran QB Brian Hoyer. Rahim Moore adds another weapon to that Houston defense.

And the Philadelphia Eagles ...

I'll just let you be the judge of these moves. (We took a stab at understanding Chip Kelly's thinking earlier in the week).

Traded: QB Nick Foles for QB Sam Bradford and LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso
Signed: RB DeMarco Murray, RB Ryan Mathews, CB Byron Maxwell, LB Brad Jones, CB Walter Thurmond
Re-signed: OLB Brandon Graham, QB Mark Sanchez
Lost: WR Jeremy Maclin, DB Nate Allen
Cut: DE Trent Cole, G Todd Herremans, CB Cary Williams